It’s hard to keep us off the trails around Redmond. The terrain is dynamic and blue, sunny skies are the norm. There are hiking trails with butt-kicking inclines as well as gentle paths but always with a beautiful view.
We love the history around Lake Billy Chinook. Tam-a-lau Trail is a 6.5-mile loop that meanders up a lava plateau covered with desert brush and boulders. The trail continues along the river canyon with views of the Cascades Mountains and the lake glistening below. We always stop at the petroglyphs to remind ourselves of who walked this land long before us. The nearby Otter Bench Trail system has several options from 2 miles to 9 miles with plenty of views of Crooked River below.
GRAY BUTTE TRAIL
Gray Butte trail is a gem with bright wildflowers in the spring and early summer. It’s a 6.5-mile loop trail that winds around desert brush and grassland.
DESCHUTES RIVER & WHYCHUS CREEK TRAILS
Trails along the Deschutes River are stunning. Scout Camp Trail is a 2.5-mile loop taking you into steep river canyons that winds past the rushing, wild junction of the Deschutes and its Whychus Creek tributary. On the other side of Whychus Creek is the 7 mile out-and-back Alder Springs trail. This trail gives us a wild off-grid vibe, weaving through a desert oasis with unique geological features. You’ll see colorful layers of rock towers, steep canyons and even need to wade the creek as part of the trail.
SMITH ROCK STATE PARK
We never get tired of the dozen trails around Smith Rock State Park. With a rushing river that cuts through golden ravines and attracts a variety of wildlife, we always leave recharged. From short scenic strolls from the parking lot to the strenuous 7+ mile Summit Loop Trail, there are trails for all types of hikers and dogs are welcome on leashes.
The Rim Rock Trail at Smith Rock
This is a short 1/2 mile trail that follows the canyon rim from the left of the Welcome Center area. The gravel path is easy to navigate and the views are incredible without much effort.
The River Trail at Smith Rock
If you’re looking for a walk along mostly flat ground, you can opt to take the river trail which meanders along the Crooked River for 2.5-miles.
Misery Ridge Trail at Smith Rock
One of the most popular Smith Rock experiences is a hike up Misery Ridge Trail, a walk that’s not for the faint of heart but that, in the end, will offer you amazing views of the park, the high desert countryside and the peaks of the Cascade Range.
The base of the Misery Ridge Trail is just across the Crooked River footbridge. This breathtaking trail, which climbs and zig-zags 900 feet in elevation in less than 1 mile, is part of a 3.6-mile loop around the headland’s tip.
The trail is well-maintained with steps where you need them, though there are some places where sure feet, the hand of a hiking companion or a walking stick would be nice. At the top, a 360-degree panoramic view of Central Oregon unfolds — really an amazing site.
Taking Misery Ridge down the backside will lead directly past the landmark Monkey Face Rock. Walk slowly as the trail can be a bit slippery with loose shale. Once off the slope, follow the trail along the river, around the rock, and back to where you started. You will be delighted with your accomplishment.
This hike is rated difficult, but it’s one you will remember for a lifetime.
The Summit Loop trail is the longest hike in the state park. The trail actually takes you outside of the park’s boundaries for a little while and then drops you back in again. Descend into the park’s canyon from the parking area and choose to follow the trail left or right after you cross the bridge over the Crooked River — going right will give you steep a climb up Burma Road followed by a gradual descent. Take the River Trail to the left and you’ll eventually experience a gradual climb up which is stretched out over several miles. Either way, the Cascade Mountain, Crooked River and Monkey Face views are worth the sweat! This trail is also a popular mountain biking trail.